The Pirates made an effort to re-sign left-hander Antonio Bastardo, tweets Baseball Essential’s Robert Murray. Pittsburgh was willing to offer the lefty a two-year, $8MM contract to return to the bullpen, but he eclipsed that mark fairly handily in landing a total of $12MM over the life of his two-year deal with the Mets. Bastardo reportedly drew varying levels of interest from the Dodgers, Orioles, Blue Jays and Twins in addition to Pittsburgh and New York. From my vantage point, given the willingness to go to two years on Bastardo and the lack of internal options on the 40-man roster beyond excellent setup man Tony Watson and DFA reclamation Kyle Lobstein, the Pirates make sense as a landing spot for a veteran lefty on a one-year deal.
Elsewhere in the NL Central…
- The upcoming wave of collective bargaining negotiations will be a critical one for small-market teams like the Pirates, writes USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, who spoke to Pirates owner Bob Nutting for the column. Nutting spoke about how he’d “love to see [Andrew McCutchen] stay with us forever,” though as Nightengale notes, that’s a difficult proposition considering Pittsburgh’s payroll constraints and the robust free agent prices (specifically, Nightengale references Jason Heyward’s deal, though comparing a 26-year-old to McCutchen, who will be entering his age-32 season when hitting the open market after 2018, is somewhat of an imperfect analogy). Revenue sharing and possible alterations to the luxury tax in an attempt to level the playing field, to some extent, will both be topics of discussion, Nightengale notes, though as he points out, it’s unlikely that the Pirates, Brewers, Indians and other small-market clubs will ever be able to spend at the level of the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox. Nutting feels this CBA will be “critically” important to small-market clubs and hopes steps are taken to give such teams greater access to talent acquisition.
- Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal tells Ben Frederickson and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that there have been no talks of a long-term deal with the team at this point. “As far as contractual, multi-year type things, I guess we haven’t had any talks,” said Rosenthal. “I don’t know what they’re thinking, what we’re thinking. I don’t know how any of that looks because I haven’t gone through it. Going through the arbitration process was pretty good. Smooth. I’m happy with how it ended up.” That’s a perhaps unsurprising revelation, as Rosenthal is represented by Scott Boras, whose clients rarely take contract extensions prior to hitting the open market. Beyond that, Rosenthal is already earning significant money in arbitration, having agreed to a $5.6MM salary for the 2016 season last week.
- Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who candidly expressed his frustration with the team’s rebuilding process yesterday, tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he’s working to avoid further concussions after suffering a serious one late in the 2015 season. Specifically, Lucroy explained that doctors and team trainers have preached neck strengthening exercises, as studies have shown that neck strength can help to limit the impact of a concussion.
- Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan examines the decline in Lucroy’s pitch-framing marks over the past four years and whether or not the Brewers (or an acquiring team) should expect him to bounce back in that regard. Sullivan’s research finds that catchers that see their pitch-framing numbers decline rarely experience a rebound in that particular metric, and perhaps more troubling, finds that Lucroy’s decline has been the most rapid of virtually any catcher in the league. As Sullivan notes, quantifiable pitch-framing metrics are relatively new, so there are some uncertainties with the information and there could be elements not being considered. Nonetheless, the initial returns on his examination don’t paint a particularly bright picture.
- Because Brandon Phillips elected not to waive his no-trade rights earlier this offseason, Reds fans could see newly acquired prospect Jose Peraza at a number of positions in 2016, writes MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. “I think it’s important to remember that Peraza has played a lot at shortstop,” GM Dick Williams tells Sheldon. “He has played center field. There’s a chance we could see him in different spots. I don’t think getting playing time for him will be an issue. We’d gladly take an approach where we get him some time at different areas and see where he can be of assistance to the team.” Sheldon notes that one means of enticing Phillips to approve a trade would be to reduce his playing time somewhat in favor of Peraza, though that could result in some clubhouse problems by making a still-productive veteran feel slighted by the organization.